Tech round-up for October 13: Three new smartphones – Galaxy Note8, iPhone 8 Plus, OnePlus 5 – awesome in their own ways

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There’s still some ten weeks until Christmas, but with all the new smartphones having been released recently, you may think it’s come early.

I’ve been using three handsets in the past while, and have found that they all have their advantages and cool aspects.

The party’s only just begun, though. LG’s new flagship phone, the V30, releases in Canada next Friday. Google’s next versions of its Pixel phones are also due soon, with the Pixel 2 getting into hands next week, and the larger Pixel 2 XL arriving on November 14.

And there’s this other phone from Apple you may have heard about. The iPhone X will have devotees lining up well before the morning of November 3 (you can place a preorder in two weeks).

Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

While other phones have been supporting wireless charging for a few years, it’s new to Apple’s iPhones, and it’s quite the convenience. Being able to charge your iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus without having to plug in is one reason that the new handsets are made with glass on the front and the back, with a ring of aluminium.

The battery life is somewhat improved, too, and the True Tone colour feature changes the colour tone and brightness of the screen based on the colour and brightness of the light in the surroundings you’re in. So you don’t have to worry about being blinded by your screen when you’re in the dark.

The cameras are more versatile, with the front-facing camera able to shoot 4K video and providing high dynamic range (HDR) with every photo.

The technology in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus was also designed to support augmented reality experiences, like the new Ikea Place app that let’s you virtually place Ikea furniture in your living space.

Pricing

  • iPhone 8: $929 with 64 GB storage or $1,139 with 256 GB storage
  • iPhone 8 Plus: $1,059 with 64 GB storage or $1,269 with 256 GB storage
  • iPhone X: $1,319 with 64 GB storage or $1,529 with 256 GB storage

OnePlus 5

Even though OnePlus has only been on the scene since 2013, the OnePlus is the company’s fifth handset.

The killer feature of these phones is that they support two SIM cards. In some countries, India is one, customers have one provider of cellular phone service, and another provider for data.

Here in Canada, this can be convenient if you regularly travel to the United States because you could have one SIM card with a Canadian carrier, and a different SIM card in the phone for when you travel to the U.S. It’s a system you could use for travel anywhere, in fact.

The OnePlus 5 is one of the fastest handsets available, too, due to the powerful processing chip aided by a lightweight operating system. This is one reason the OnePlus is favoured by some tech savvy developers.

While OnePlus started out as a budget smartphone manufacturer, the company has been upping the production value which comes with an increase in price point. But the OnePlus 5 is still cheaper than many other high-end smartphones with similar features.

Pricing

  • $649 with 64 GB storage
  • $719 with 128 GB storage

Samsung Galaxy Note8 handset

Samsung’s latest handsets, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus, were joined by the new Galaxy Note8 this summer.

Like it’s cousins, the Note8 has a lovely wraparound screen, support for wireless charging, and improved Bluetooth (Bluetooth 5 to be exact). And they can all be used like computers using the DeX dock connected to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

What sets the Note8 apart is that it comes with the S-Pen stylus, which enables a bunch of cool things like Live Messages, which are animated GIFs of your handwritten message. And Screen Off Memo, which lets you to write notes on the screen when the device is sleeping.

My one complaint is that the fingerprint sensor, on the back of the phone, is beside the camera lens. This is also a problem with the S8 and S8 Plus. But for now, the Note8 is the best Android phone available.

Pricing

  • $1,300 with 64 GB storage

Which phone is right for you?

The Verge has put together a handy comparison chart with all the technical specs on the handsets, if you want to get into the details.

For me it’s a bit easier to make a recommendation.

The iPhone 8 (and 8 Plus) are for most users who want a device that works as expected and is reliable. If you’re already in the Apple ecosystem and need a new handset, this is what you want. If you can spend a couple of hundred dollars more, though, wait for the iPhone X. By all accounts it’s a game changer.

If you’re doing any traveling to other countries where having a phone that can accommodate a SIM from another provider, or if you want a cheaper device and are willing to sacrifice some of the photo capabilities, the OnePlus 5 is your best bet.

If using a stylus is built into your smartphone use, you need the Samsung Galaxy Note8, but if you’re just looking for the best Android handset, I suspect that Google’s Pixel 2 will become the best option soon.

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